Veterans step up for Argos

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:29 AM ET

TORONTO - When the Argos needed it most, their veterans were there for them.

First it was Jeremaine Copeland, who had not hauled in a pass in the first three quarters.

Copeland got on the board late in the fourth with about four minutes left when he hauled in a 28-yarder.

But with the Argos down by a point and needing a first down, Cleo Lemon turned to Copeland again hitting him over the middle for 11-yards.

Eventually, it came down to the other elder statesman on the Argos roster as Noel Prefontaine drilled a 43-yard field goal that turned out to be the winner.

Argos head coach Jim Barker played up the nothing-to-lose angle all week leading up to the season opener. His vets came up biggest when he needed them most.

The difference maker

Brandon Rideau was one of the players who most perplexed the Argos coaching staff a year ago. A big receiver who showed extremely well in training camp and during practice. But come game time, Rideau tended to disappear more often than not.

The message from Barker in his year-end evaluation with the former Kansas star was come back next year a little more bulked up and expecting to make a difference.

That message was re-visited again on a day during training camp when Rideau dropped back-to-back passes and heard it from Barker who vocally challenged his receiver to “make plays.”

Rideau responded a couple of days later with a huge game in the final pre-season game in Winnipeg.

On opening night in Calgary, he matched his entire touchdown output for the entire 2010 season when he hauled in an 18-yard pass from Lemon looking very much like Willie Mays in his hey-day with the Giants.

Rideau was moved from slotback to wide receiver this year and the move seems to suit him.

It's his job

OK, we understand Chad Owens hearing it from the commentators and analysts for not getting out of bounds when he’s already straddling the sideline but for Jock Climie to suggest Owens was being reckless on the return he got hurt on which was up the gut of the Calgary return team is just plain wrong. That willingness to hit those small holes knowing he was opening himself up to potential punishment is what made him as successful as he was a year ago.

Making an impact

Claude Wroten is still getting the Argo terminology down after a late arrival at camp, but the Argos nose tackle was adamant that once the lights went on for real, it was “just football” and he would be fine. Two sacks in the season opener and a share of a third — although he wasn’t credited for it — suggest Wroten wasn’t embellishing. With Wroten and Kevin Huntley on the inside of that Argos defensive line, expect big things from the Argos front four.

It's only a number

Age might slow some of us down, but not 37-year-old Prefontaine. The Argos special teams had been doing a good job all night bottling up Stamps returner Larry Taylor but midway through the third quarter the CFL special teams player of the year of 2009 looked like he was on his way to a big one when a white uniform came flying across the middle and took Taylor down. It wasn’t until the Argo jumped up that anyone realized it was the kicker, let alone one of the oldest guys on the football field.

Third and short

Twice in the red zone in the first quarter, the Calgary Stampeders came away with just four points. That was the No. 1 offence in the red zone a year being turned back. You don’t think the Argos defence is feeling pretty good about itself today ... It took the Argos four games last season before a receiver hit the touchdown board. Lemon and his targets are clearly in much better synch a year later ... You had to feel for Brampton-born Stampeders kicker Rob Maver. A standout in his rookie campaign a year ago, Maver missed the final pre-season game with a quadriceps strain and clearly tried to come back too early. The only one of his four field-goal attempts he made was a 17-yard chip shot. He missed from 32, 45 and 21. After the third miss, the Calgary fans voiced their collective displeasure despite the fact Maver was clearly limping ... Cory Boyd was awfully quiet in that final pre-season tune-up in Winnipeg but he was right back to the yardage-eating back of a year ago as the regular season opened up. Boyd had 15 carries for 96 yards, including a two-yard touchdown. Boyd set up his own two-yard drive with a 33-yard romp ... We have to admit that when John Cornish topped Duane Forde’s list of top Canadians in TSN’s recent top players list, we were a little surprised. But after watching him on special teams against the Argos and contributing on offence with the Stamps second rushing touchdown of the game, Cornish just may be that deserving.


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